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SEQRA SERIES, PART 4 - Coordinated Review and Determining Significance

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Coordinated Review and Determining Significance Under SEQRA

The next steps in the SEQRA process involve coordinated review of the action amongst involved agencies, and a determination of significance of potential environmental impacts.

Coordinated Review under SEQRA

Coordinated review is a procedural mechanism under SEQRA designed to streamline the environmental review process for actions that involve multiple agencies. The purpose of coordinated review is to establish a single, comprehensive environmental review process that avoids duplicative efforts among agencies. This is particularly vital for projects that require approvals from more than one governmental entity, ensuring that all environmental impacts are considered collectively rather than in isolation.

The coordinated review process is initiated by identifying a "lead agency," which is responsible for conducting the environmental review on behalf of all other involved agencies. The lead agency is typically the entity with the broadest governmental jurisdiction over the proposed action or the one most capable of conducting a thorough environmental analysis. Once established, the lead agency undertakes the responsibility of guiding the SEQRA process, from determining the significance of environmental impacts to potentially preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), if required.

During the coordinated review, the lead agency solicits input from all other involved agencies and takes into consideration their concerns. This collaborative approach ensures that all environmental aspects of the proposed action are thoroughly evaluated.

Determining Significance under SEQRA

Determining the significance of an action's environmental impact is a pivotal step in the SEQRA process. This determination dictates whether a detailed environmental review is necessary. An action is deemed to have a significant adverse environmental impact if it is likely to lead to one or more significant adverse effects on the environment. Factors considered include impacts on land, water, air, natural resources, traffic, noise levels, and community character, among others.

The lead agency has 20 days from receipt of all information it reasonably needs to issue a determination of significance. Information must include considerations of the whole action, the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF), input by involved agencies, and public input. The lead agency can issue three declarations:

  • Positive declaration
  • Negative declaration
  • Conditioned negative declaration

If the lead agency determines that the proposed action may result in a significant adverse environmental impact, thus requiring an EIS to be prepared, the lead agency must issue a positive declaration.

If the lead agency determines the proposed action will not have a significant adverse environmental impact, the lead agency will issue a negative declaration. Every negative declaration needs to identify the relevant areas of environmental concern, analyze those concerns, and document the reasons why the identified environmental concerns will not be significant.

A lead agency may issue a third declaration, but only for unlisted actions. To issue a conditioned negative declaration, there must be:

  • a full EAF prepared,
  • coordinated review,
  • SEQRA conditions imposed would eliminate or reduce identified potentially significant adverse impacts to a non-significant level,
  • notice is filed and published the same as for Type I actions, and
  • a 30-day minimum public comment period was provided.


The SEQRA process, with its emphasis on coordinated review and the meticulous determination of significance, underscores New York’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable development. By fostering collaboration among agencies and ensuring that environmental impacts are thoroughly assessed and mitigated, SEQRA ensures that New York’s environmental resources are protected. Understanding these processes is essential for any agency or entity involved in actions subject to SEQRA, facilitating compliance and promoting environmentally responsible decision-making.

If you have questions about SEQRA, need assistance with SEQRA, or are seeking guidance with an Environmental, Land Use & Zoning, or Municipal Law matter, please contact Mindy L. Zoghlin, Esq., Jacob H. Zoghlin, Esq., or Ryan Ockenden, Esq.

Previous: Read Part 3 - Completing an Environmental Assessment Form

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